Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Discipline of Love

The Discipline of Love: A Quiet Pentecost and a Manger

Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine
Love was born at Christmas; star and angels gave the sign.
– Christina G. Rossetti, 1885

In the year 2015, we are living through massive geo-political, racial, religious, economic, and ecological disruptions. Not surprisingly, cynicism is deeply rooted within us. Religious intolerance has reached new levels. Trust in police and governmental structures has eroded. Sometimes I think our time is one of those in which not one, but many of the accumulated wounds of the centuries are being lanced – racially, religiously, economically, ecologically. Many people fiercely cling to their personal “way,” and hold out in fear to changes that are being thrust upon our globe.

In such a time, what shall we do, but risk all to pray again for a “rebirth of wonder,” * to hope again for the Prince of Peace to be born among us and take root in every heart?

In collecting the stories for A Quiet Pentecost, I was reminded of the story in John 20. After the crucifixion, the disciples are holed up in fear “behind locked doors.” Even so, Jesus comes among them with the message: Peace be with you! Fear cannot contain God’s peace! At Christmas, we celebrate that Jesus comes in a manger in the humility of a baby with the same message, inviting us into the Presence of Divine love, hope, and peace.

Our invitation this Christmas season is to await the renewal of “Love all lovely, Love divine” again in our own troubled hearts and within our world. There are many legitimate fears in our society. The declaration of Christmas, as well as of Resurrection, is that God is more powerful than our fears, that in the midst of our fears our invitation is to hear that quiet voice of assurance, the voice that love is an invitation and a discipline. It is the invitation to make peace within our own hearts, and then daily to discern where the discipline of love is calling us.  The invitation is to live in God’s realm of love and justice and seek to be partakers of the Divine nature in our inner attitudes and in our exterior actions. Love is sometimes joy; it is often very difficult work, challenging us to keep growing, to keep confronting our fears and our limitations. Divine love invites us to daily keep the discipline to which Jesus calls us, to “abide in my love” (John 15:10).

We offer a great challenge to one another when we bless each other this Christmas season with the words:

“The Peace of Christ be with you!”

* Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “I am waiting.”